Governor Hochul Announces Plan to Limit Split Case Fees

The Governor announced at a press conference in Brooklyn highlighting the steps being taken to support the recovery of the hospitality industry that the State Liquor Authority will be seeking to amend the existing rules on fair limitation on split case fees. Governor Hochul explained that these extra fees are charged to restaurants and bars who lack the cash flow, resources, or storage space to purchase full cases of liquor and wine they sell to the public. The Governor pointed out that “these split case fees can be as much as $3 per bottle, a significant extra expense which has a disproportionate impact on smaller neighborhood bars and restaurants.”

We started our campaign to reduce or eliminate split case fees more than three years ago. After our efforts to get legislative action were thwarted by Empire and Southern, we brought our concerns to the State Liquor Authority, filing a formal complaint in July 2020. The Authority notified us in the Fall that they were inclined to accept our position – that the current split case fees were unreasonable and should either be eliminated or substantially reduced. The Authority is expected to propose adjusting the fee last set in 1981 ($1.92 per case) by the annual rate of inflation as determined by the Consumer Price Index resulting in a new split case fee of about $8.00 per case. That’s less than Empire ($30 per case) and Southern ($36 per case). The public statement from the Governor is a public commitment to that relief from split case fees is on the way.

It will take about six months for this to be implemented. The SLA has to develop a proposed regulation, publish it for public comment, review the comments, and respond as necessary before the new regulation can take effect. Our research shows that split case fees cost small restaurants and taverns thousands of dollars each year, so cutting the fees by as much as two-thirds should make a big difference to you.